A big point about Alabama’s defense: It’s giving up very few points

O.J. Howard, Tre’ Williams
Alabama’s O.J. Howard, left, attempts to evade Auburn’s Tre’ Williams during a game Saturday.
(Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images)

Each week during the season, visit “The Huddle” for the latest in college football news, notes, conversation and opinion.


This is notable

Top-ranked Alabama didn’t allow a touchdown in November and held its four opponents to 18 points, shutting out Louisiana State. Texas A&M, on Oct. 22, was the last team to pass for a touchdown against the Crimson Tide. Tennessee, six games ago on Oct. 15, was the last team to rush for a touchdown. We’ll see if No. 15 Florida can make a trip to the Alabama end zone Saturday in the Southeastern Conference championship game. 



The Big Ten Conference championship trophy could amount to nothing more than a participation award for No. 6 Wisconsin (10-2, 7-2 conference play) or No. 7 Penn State (10-2, 8-1). Despite earning a league title-game berth, neither team is in position to represent the conference in the College Football Playoff because of No. 2 Ohio State (11-1, 8-1) and No. 5 Michigan (10-2, 7-2). 


West Virginia running back Martell Pettaway sat on the bench for 10 games and intended to redshirt until Coach Dana Holgorsen called the freshman into action because of injuries to other backs. Pettaway rushed for 181 yards and a touchdown in 30 carries in a 49-19 victory over Iowa State. Now Pettaway can play in two more games — the regular-season finale against Baylor on Saturday and a bowl game — to make the most of his freshman season. 


That was tweet

“Wins and losses don’t reflect what coach did for this University. I wouldn’t trade the lessons he left us with for all the rings in the world”

— Tristan Nickelson (@Tristan_OT75)

With a record of 16-21 in three seasons, Charlie Strong didn’t produce enough victories to keep his job as coach at Texas, but it was apparent after he was fired how several of his players felt about him.


“Keep Coach O!! You Hear It!!!!”

— Duke Riley (@1Goal1Dream)

USC players made the same rally cry in 2013 after Ed Orgeron took over as interim coach of the Trojans, but the lovable Louisiana native didn’t land the full-time gig. Three years later, Louisiana State players hollered the same chant after the Tigers defeated Texas A&M in a regular-season finale. This time, the players got their wish. 


Hot off the presser

“I mean literally gutted it out and we were a team.” Siri: “I’m not sure what you said.” “Gutted it out. Uh, gutted it out. Gutted. It. Out.”

— Dabo Swinney, Clemson coach

Even after Siri, the iPhone personal assistant, interrupted Swinney’s news conference, the coach made it clear that the No. 3 Tigers had to dig deep on their way to a record of 11-1, 7-1 in Atlantic Coast Conference play. Clemson will face No. 23 Virginia Tech (9-3, 6-2) in the ACC championship game Saturday. Now if only Siri could answer the question of who will make the College Football Playoff.…


“Heck, it’s grown on me through the season. Maybe I wasn’t such a fan early on, but I’ve come to really like it.”

— Bob Stoops, Oklahoma coach

It’s business in the front, party in the back for Oklahoma State Coach Mike Gundy and his ever-so-stylish haircut, but we’ll see who is having the real party Saturday when No. 9 Oklahoma (9-2, 8-0 in Big 12 Conference play) and No. 10 Oklahoma State (9-2, 7-1) face off in the Bedlam rivalry and what has become this season’s de facto Big 12 championship game. 


Fresh out the Pac

There’s been no turnaround in college football this season quite like that of the Colorado Buffaloes. 

A year removed from finishing 4-9 overall and 1-8 in the Pac-12 Conference, and four months after being picked to finish last in the Pac-12 South Division, the Buffaloes are ranked No. 8 in the CFP, have won the South title and will play in the conference championship game for the first time in program history, against No. 4 Washington on Friday.

“These young men and how well they’ve played, they’ve bought into everything we’ve asked them to do,” said Mike McIntyre, who was named the Pac-12 coach of the year.

The Buffaloes are the first team in conference history to improve their record by seven games in a single season. They are 10-2 overall, 8-1 in the Pac-12.

My Thiry

Win today or you’re gone tomorrow.

“It is the pathetic part of this business, without question,” Washington Coach Chris Petersen said. 

Petersen was right. But that’s the message that continues to echo to coaches from school administrators, media members and Monday morning quarterbacks on message boards and Twitter.

Mark Helfrich, thank you for taking Oregon to the national championship game and spending a lifetime loving the Ducks, but a couple down seasons and down the road you go.  

And to Charlie Strong, who cares that a team of Longhorns lauded the way you’ve helped develop them into young men? You didn’t develop enough wins.

Few coaches are afforded more than a couple of seasons to rack up victories before their job is called for, and for most people who operate outside of the locker room no excuse for a loss is ever justifiable.

USC’s Clay Helton was spared after USC’s 1-3 start and look what happened: The Trojans won eight straight.

College football needs more patience and a vision beyond wins and losses.

But perhaps that’s what Texas is onto. After all, they got rid of Strong to hire hot up-and-comer Tom Herman, who led Houston to a 9-3 season that included losses to underdogs Navy, Southern Methodist and Memphis.

Perhaps Helfrich sent Herman the same text a coach sent him when he was hired for his dream job at Oregon: “Congratulations and condolences.”

Follow Lindsey Thiry on Facebook and Twitter @LindseyThiry